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Trust in randomness and mine your subconscious with this writing exercise

Poet and teacher May Swenson said, “The best poetry has its roots in the subconscious to a great degree. Youth, naivety, reliance on instinct more than learning and method, a sense of freedom and play, even trust in randomness, is necessary to the making of a poem.”

In the spirit of being random, turn up your observation skills and as you go about your day, note 12 phrases or words that strike you. You might see something in an e-mail, a text, or an overheard conversation at the tea shop. Use them to spur the writing of a poem or flash fiction.

For inspiration, read Earth Your Dancing Place and other poetry on, the website of the Academy of American Poets. Learn more about May Swenson.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great prompt! I should definitely put this one into practice more often.

    June 1, 2013
    • If you try it, let me know how it goes! I did a version of this today. I was reading an essay today and so many words and phrases were leaping out at me that I had to start highlighting them. It was energizing! I can’t wait to see what I come up with — poem or story — from my list.

      June 2, 2013

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